Monday, November 25, 2013
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be a whole lotta fun and often times a stressor of sorts; what to make (excluding the obvious), how to make it, will there be enough food, will everything come out at the same time etc…etc…etc… Over the years I’ve made it a point to simplify. Which means someone else has the responsibility of cooking the turkey and I the sides.
So last night Mike walked in from the garden with an armful of greens; a veritable bouquet of Chard, Purple Kale & Broccoli Rabe.
Gorgeous! The purple stems are purple kale.
Mike, who is a good cook himself (he cooks the turkey), proceeded to prep the greens for cooking by chopping the stems very small so that they would cook quickly.
He then continued on to the leaves with a rough chop (bigger pieces than the stems). And put all the prepped greens into a saute pan.
Then onto the stove it went.
A Saute of Greens is a fresh, simple and quick way to complement the Thanksgiving Day Dinner; no matter who cooks it!
Here’s the recipe.
1 lb of your favorite green, rough chop (stems ooptional - chopped very small)
1 Tbls of extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper
Turn your stove burner to medium high. Place a large saute pan on that burner and add olive oil. While olive oil is heating add your greens and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Begin turning the greens over and over until they begin wilting. Once they have cooked down, turn the stove down to low, cover and cook for 5 to 10 more minutes or until greens soften but still have a crunch (yes you must test). Once done ladle greens out into a bowl and serve immediately.
Yields 6 side servings.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
While I wouldn’t say I’m a Halloween lover there are a few things that I do like to keep in fashion around my house, Casa Pav. And that is the decor that in itself demontrates the holiday.
When I first began picking up pieces for my Halloween decor I had kids in mind. My husband and I were working on the “task” of having children and I felt like I should start preparing by buying all sorts of fun holiday decor pieces. Which goes right in line with my MO; not being too practical. I was all about the surface decoration rather than the real inside preparedness of having a child.
Sadly, the kid thing didn’t work out for us. However, the decor did and still does. It’s sure not a replacement. But it does make me feel good to have a few designated pieces of Halloween or that which demonstrates it placed around my home.
Dining Room Table
Each piece has it’s place whether outside or inside. One of my favorites is the candy corn man that sits outside greeting people when they visit. Another is the witchy pumpkin cat that sits upon the counter in the guest bathroom.
So, for not having a pure love for Halloween I think I’m doing pretty good. I keep the decor simple; a little elegant and weirdly somewhat full of smiles.
Happy Halloween from Casa Pav - sans kids!
Monday, September 23, 2013
Let’s face it, Boursin cheese is one of the best flavored cheeses around. It’s an airy, buttery and herb cacophony that bursts open on your tongue. Then melts to nothingness leaving you wanting more and more and more…
The first time I ever tried Boursin, I made it myself. I had been hired, whilst in culinary school, to help cook for a small catering event. I was instructed to make an appetizer of baby potato w/ a dollop of boursin cheese; a finger food to pop into your mouth in one bite. I was told that buying Boursin was fine (and delicious) but based on the amount we needed making it would be just as easy. So there I was making a batch of Boursin.
In truth, and in a pinch, I do buy Boursin. Making it though is an infinate treat. I made some for a dinner party this weekend. With herbs still growing in our gardens all I needed was a few ingredients from the market. Can you name all the herbs?
Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1/8 C of whole whipping cream
12 stems of thyme, leaves only
3-4 sage leaves
5 3” sprigs of majoram, leaves only
1 3” sprig of rosemary, needles only
1 4” sprig of tarrogon (or Mexican marigold), leaves only
15 chives, minced
2 medium cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process untill all ingredients incorporate and the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Pour into an airtight container. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Tips & Uses
*Bring to room temperature to soften.
*To melt, place in microwave for a few minutes, checking and stirring at intervals.
*Can be used as a spread and/or dipping sauce.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Tomato season is all but over here in Texas. We have a few months each year that produce some pretty luscious fruits. These colorful globes can be picked right from the vine and popped into the mouth. Their sun-kissed warmth, acidity and juiciness just about make any dish delightful to the eye; not too mention devoured.
This sandwich is one of my favorites. It’s best made during tomato season and with a fresh made loaf of olive bread.
As summer ends this is my final farewell to the Tomato, Basil, Aioli & Olive Bread Sandwich. Until next year’s tomato harvest….
2 slices of fresh olive bread, 1/4”-1/” slices
1 Tbls of aoili (or your favorite mayo)
1 medium vine ripened tomato, sliced 1/4” thick
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 large basil leaves
Take 1/2 of the aioli and spread evenly on one piece of bread. Repeat process on 2nd piece of bread. Lay each piece of bread side by side. On one slice of bread place 3 slices of tomato so that it covers the entire piece of bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper on tomatoes. On top of tomato place basil leaves. Place 2nd slice of bread on top of basil leaves. Gently press down. Cut sanwich down the center for 2 pieces. Eat immediately. Enjoy!
Yields 1 sandwich.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
What is The Tim-tastic Salad? Well, it’s the one salad I wait for all year; THE salad of our annual summer beach vaycay. It’s full of all good things; lettuce, cabbage, tomato, carrot, nuts, dried fruit and cheese. And there is only one person who makes it just right - Tim.
When I asked Tim what inspired him to make his salad he said he just loves the combination of ingredients. Also, he can change things up if he wants to; nothing is set in stone. Interestingly, Tim doesn’t work with measurements for this particular salad. He considers measurement, though, by aligning all his ingredients on a cutting board.
Who knew when we arrived at our beach destination yesterday that there were thoughts of making one of my favorite salads for supper. A super refreshing, lite and healthful way to start a beach vacation with good friends.
Dubbed especially by Tim’s daughter, Grace, THE Tim-tastic Salad is a definative keeper. Here’s to it!
3 cups your favorite lettuce, rough chop
1 cup red cabbage, shredded or cut into 1/4” pieces
1 cup of baby tomato, sliced lengthwise
1-2 cup(s) carrot, sliced 1/4” pieces
1/2 cup any nut of your choice
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 - 1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
Place all ingredients on a cutting board. In a large bowl begin layering 1/2 of each ingredient on top of the other in this order:
Repeat layering until all ingredients are in the bowl.
Serve immediately with your favoite dressing or vinaigrette.
*In addition to the ingredients above you can add peppers, onion etc…
*If you get tired of Feta cheese you can replace it with Parmesan cheese.
*Layering ingredients is a gentle way of incorporating ingredients. Also it prevents the smaller & heavier ingredients dropping to the bottom once mixed.
p.s I took the liberty of adding some measurements to help you get started.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Recently I lured my mother for a visit by insisting that she help me with sorting through the hundreds of platters, bowls, glasses and table accoutrements I have. While we didn’t even come close to going through this left-over spectacle of my catering business we did get to dive into one of her recipes; Forgiving Chicken Salad.
A little known fact about my mother is that she loves to raid her own refrigerator before she leaves for a visit to one of her daughter’s homes. So, like many other visits she moseyed into my kitchen with the makings of her chicken salad. She says it’s forgiving because you can add anything you’d like to the primary ingredients; in this case, dried fruit, nuts and Herbs de Provence.
It’s always a treat for me to cook with my mom in the kitchen; she’s one of the best cooks I know. And still after all her years of planning meals, shopping and cooking for her family she still clips recipes, loves to experiment and share the outcome. She’s a great culinary inspiration.
Here is her recipe just for you. Enjoy!
2 cups of rotisserie chicken, white meat
3/4 cups of celery, chopped fine
1/2 cup of sweet onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup of craisins or golden raisins
1/2 cup of dry roasted, unsalted sliced almonds
3/4-1 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/4 tsp salt (kosher)
1/4 tsp pepper, fresh ground
Assemble your ingredients.
Chopped chicken, celery and onion into small even pieces.
Place all ingredients into a large bowl.
Stir to incorporate all ingredients.
Use your favorite bread, some lettuce and you have a beautiful and delicious chicken sammie; either open or closed.
Any herb may be used. I like tarrogon and thyme.
If you like a little kick add a pinch of cayenne.
You can use as little or as much mayonnaise as you wish. Just don’t make it too gloppy.
Fresh grapes can replace dried fruit. Or fruit may be omitted completely.
Any nut may replace the almonds.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Have you ever seen something as beautiful as a flowering leek? It’s one magnificent life force; pushing it’s soft miniscule flower pods out of a silky tough skin.
My husband, Mike (gardner extraordinaire), will be pulling these gorgeous leeks this weekend so we might use the white bottoms for a BBQ. So this was my last chance to share the bloom with you.
It’s my Friday Food Find; and a kind of gift to you - a flowering leek. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Just a few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a dear friends daughter, Natalie. Natalie asked if she could submit a blog post that she and two friends, Lydia and Savannah, had been whipping up in the kitchen. How could I refuse my first request for a recipe submission? And, oh, what a recipe it is.
It is a dessert that they are calling “baby babas”. So, in their own words and with their own pictures, I’m super proud to share this scrumptious looking dessert with you. I’m off to bake it myself!
Many thanks Natalie, Lydia and Savanna!
Here is how to make a Polish dessert known as babeczki smietankowe (baBECHkee shmyetanKOveh)! We prefer to call them baby babas.
First, gather your ingredients.
For the dough:
4 sticks butter
2 3/4 cups allpurpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
For the custard:
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups halfandhalf, hot
Next, gather supplies: cooking spray, muffin tin, stand mixer bowl, plastic wrap, measuring cups, measuring spoons, wooden spoon, whisk, rolling pin and timer.
Attach bowl and paddle attachment to standmixer. Make sure the bowl is fully clicked in.
Cut in butter and flour until coarse crumbs form. Add sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.
To separate the yolks, crack the egg, but leave the yolk in half of the shell. Transfer the yolk to the other half, emptying out the whites as you go.
Knead dough on cutting board, squashing any air pockets. This dough is very sticky, so use lots of flour!
Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and place in fridge for 10 minutes or so. This prevents the dough from being too sticky when you cut it later.
Beat eggs, egg yolks, and sugar for 5 minutes.Add vanilla and cornstarch. Beat more. Continue beating while adding the hot halfandhalf. To heat up the halfandhalf, pour into glass measuring cup designed for liquids.
Pour mixture in a non-reactive bowl and place in microwave for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on medium high heat. Take out of microwave and pour into a medium size sauce pan (with high sides).
Cook mixture on low heat, stirring constantly until thick. Be sure you whisk at a high speed. Cool custard in refrigerator until completely cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
Grease muffin tin. Cut circles large enough to line standard muffin tin. We just used a plastic cup to do that. Once circle is placed into tin, fill 1/3 full with custard.
Cover each filled circle with another another smaller circle of dough and crimp edges. To crimp, pinch top and bottom edges together.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the baby babas sit and cool completely before removing them from the tin. Otherwise, the babas will fall apart.
We recommend serving the baby babas after they have been in the fridge for a few hours. The custard tastes much better when cold.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
It’s Memorial Day weekend; and in my mind the offical start of the Summer.
I’ve been preparing steak for many years and this by far is one of my favorite flavor combinations. It’s simply rosemary, salt and pepper.
The best technique to a well cooked steak is to LEAVE IT ALONE. While there may be many a dissenter on that single point, I’m a firm believer in it. And it was one of the first lessons I learned about grilling in my early years working in restaurants.
The best tip is to always season your steak right before you cook it; particularly exceptional cuts like tenderloin. In this case I’m using flank which originally was lower on the beef food chain until fajitas became so popular. I really like it for this recipe. However, you can apply it to any cut you like.
I’ve also added a little roasted red pepper sauce. It is a great accompaniment with this steak; and, oh, so simple to make.
So, if you are looking for a simple, quick and delicious steak recipe for your Memorial Day - go no further than a stove top rosemary grilled flank steak.
For the steak - Ingredients
1/3 C fresh minced rosemary
1/4 C of kosher salt
1Tbls cracked black pepper
1 - 1 1/2lb size flank steak
Mix first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Generously sprinkle then rub this mixture on all sides of the steak - right before you are going to cook it. For medium-rare: Place seasoned steak in the heated grill pan over high heat. After 3 minutes turn the heat down to medium. Cook for up to 2 more minutes. Turn steak over to the other side and repeat the process. (To check for doneness take one steak off grill slice down the center but not all the way through.) When the steak is done pull it from the grill pan, set it on a cutting board and let rest for up to 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain. Serve with Roasted Red Pepper sauce.
Yields 4 6oz servings.
This technique can be used for a charcoal or propane grill as well. If you use direct flame heat, a good addition to the process is adding some rosemary wood or stalks to add a little extra herbal smoke.
Roasted Pepper Sauce
4 red bell peppers, roasted & seeded
Salt & Pepper to taste
Place peppers into a blender. Blend until ingredients are incorporated. When blended thoroughly, pour into a sieve and strain into a bowl. Place pureed pepper back into blender and add 1/8C of extra virgin olive oil. Blend to incorporate so that mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with flank steak.
How to roast a pepper:
Rub whole pepper with olive oil. Place over flame on stove eye. Turn with tongs as each side, top & bottom becomes charred.
Slice pepper in half. Rub outside with olive oil. Place on sheet pan cut sides down. Pop into oven under the broiler until skin is charred.
Once peppers are charred, remove from prospective heat and place in a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for up to 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap, remove charred skin from peppers along with seeds and stem.
Friday, May 17, 2013
I’ve been checking out the red berries, strawberry and raspberry, in the market over the last few weeks. There is that one moment during the season where they go from “not ready” to I want to buy every container because the scent and flavor are just perfect. Well, I think that time is here; at least in ATX. The strawberries smell so good and their fruity perfume catches you as you walk by the display. The raspberries are plump and super sweet, not too tart; and just the way I like them. So this “parfait” is a little ode to my red berry passion. Enjoy!
2C of Greek Yogurt - Vanilla (or your favorite flavor)
1C of Raspberries
4 large strawberries, sliced in half (w/stem) + 1 large strawberry cut in circles 1/8” thick
4 - 1/2tsp of candied ginger, minced
In a 3”x3” ramekin place yogurt in one half of it. In the other half gently arrange berries so they butt up against the yogurt and side of the yogurt. Get creative you can arrange in any way you like.
Garnish the yogurt with candied ginger. Serve immediately. Great for a Valentine’s day treat, snack, dessert or breakfast.
Yields 4 portions.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Put yourself behind the wheel and slowly drive down a slightly hidden road. All along the way bursts of red, orange, purple, blue, white and every shade of green almost blinds you angling your head side to side not wanting to miss one bit. These are the colors of petals, leaves, grass, butterflies and much more. What we natives call a Texas springtime. And there’s no other place you can see and experience it so prolifically other than a Texas State Park.
And today, I did just that! You see, Texas State Parks and Wildlife is looking to the month of May as their premier “Picnicking in the Park” month. To kick it off they hosted a wonderful luncheon at McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, TX. While I’ve been to several state parks over the years this one was new to me. It was the perfect setting for our civilized indoor/outdoor picnic.
Cecilia Nasti, Producer & Host of Passport to Texas radio series (and KUT’s Field & Feast) asked several food bloggers from the Austin Food Blogger Alliance and others to provide recipes and or food for the event. Each recipe is one that is simple and can be made specifically for a picnic.
As you can see we had a veritable feast! Check out the recipe I made Sugar Snap Peas w/ Basil; an especially great side dish for grilled meats.
To my suprise, after lunch and a meandering walk through the color-raging wildflowers, I was met in the parking lot by new friends. They wanted me to have a left-over, just harvested watermelon from the Texas valley. How could I refuse? I didn’t. Thank you to the folks at GO TEXAN!
So, now it’s your turn. Pull the the family together, make a simple picnic, put yourself behind that wheel, drive to the nearest Texas State Park and enjoy your day. Texas State Parks rock!
Friday, April 12, 2013
When it comes to pizza I’m pretty much a purist. So when my husband called me last night to say he was bringing home a few slices of a Bahn Mi pizza I was alot curious though a bit ambivalent.
A Bahn Mi is basically a Vietnamese sandwich. Traditionally a breakfast food, it is a combination of meats, pate, pickled vegetables, herbs and a some heat usually in the spread. It’s all placed inside a beautiful crusty, soft-on-the-inside baby French baguette. Believe it! The Vietnamese make some of the most delicious bread I’ve had. It is the French influence, of course.
After the last trip to Vietnam we picked one up on our way to the airport. Here’s what we knoshed on for only $.75.
Mike walk in the door and said, “Babe, you gotta try this pizza!” So I did.
It was really divine. The combination of little salty bites of sausage, briny pickled vegetable, fresh cilantro, heat from jalapeno and the mildly sweet bready crust made for one flavor and mouth sensation. I couldn’t believe it; a bahn mi pizza? But it really worked.
I finished off the last piece today for a lunch left-over and it was just as good.
As you can see I’ve eaten this pizza second hand. I didn’t go to the actual house in which it was made. And my husband had it catered. That said we’ll be on way to have some again and you should too.
You’ll just have to hop in the car and drive on out to Pinthouse Pizza Craft Brewpub in North Central Austin.
Here’s to the Bahn Mi; my Friday Food Find just for you! Enjoy.
Monday, April 01, 2013
How many of you have heard about farro? I first heard about it while traveling through Tuscany a few years back. We had stopped for lunch at a country villa. A salad of farro, tomato and parmesan with their house olive oil was one of our luncheon dishes. It left a lasting memory. So, when I saw that Tuscan Fields was sponsoring a scholorship to one of my favorite food blog conferences Eat, Write, Retreat I was all in. All I need do is tell you about this new product being imported here to the U.S., write a fabulous recipe that the judges will find irresistible and WIN!
With thoughts of a memorable Tuscan Fields Farro dish, new relatiionships and having a winning recipe here’s mine. Enjoy!
1 1/4C Tuscan Fields Farro, cook according to package directions
3/4C of fresh mint & basil, julienne (hit julienne for a how-to lesson)
1C of sweet baby tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1/2C of Parmesan Lemon Vinaigrette (see below)
Kosher Salt - to taste
Freshly ground pepper - to taste
Once Farro is done, drain in a sieve and run cool water over it to stop the cooking.
With a small spoon gently move the farro around to cool all the way through.
Let the farro drain in the sieve for up to 10 minutes.
Take the farro and place it into a medium size bowl with all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly until herbs, tomatoes and vinaigrette are combined. Taste for salt and pepper and add to your own distinct taste.
Place salad on a large platter and serve family style.
Yields up to 8 side servings.
*Great with chicken, fish or just as a side salad.
*Perfect for a summertime picnic dish too!
Parmesan Lemon Vinaigrette
1/2C of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4C of extra virgin olive oil
1C of parmesan reggiano, finely grated
1/2tsp of freshly ground pepper
Place all ingredients into a plastic or glass container with lid. Seal tightly and shake vigorously until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour half over your farro salad.
*Can be used for any type of salad and or as a dipping sauce.
*1-week life in refrigerator tightly sealed.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Easter is just a few days away. One of my favorite parts of the day is planning brunch. I go for simple ingredients and even easier cooking methods.
The truth is you can plan a fab meal with a few simple steps and here’s one: a quick recipe of Sugar Snap Peas with Basil.
This year I’ll be driving back from Big Bend in the West Texas desert. I wanted to leave you with a little something. So here it is!
8 C of water
1/4 to 1/2 C of kosher salt
1 lb of sugar snap peas, stemmed
1 Tbls of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C of fresh basil, julienne
Sprinkling of salt & pepper
Pour water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1/4C of salt (it will dissolve, have a bit of a taste - water should taste like salt. Add more salt if needed). Add sugar snaps and bring heat down to medium high/medium.
Cook for 3 minutes. Pull one sugar snap out to test. If it has a slight crunch it’s done. Scoop peas out with a colander and pour into the well of another colander that has been outfitted into a bowl of iced water . Swish peas around in cold water until cool. This will stop the cooking process. Pull colander (w/peas) out of the cold water. Over the bowl gently shake off excess water and place peas on toweling to dry. This process is a technique called blanching.
Pat excess water off the peas. Place peas on a a beautiful platter, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with julienne basil, salt and pepper. Serve!
This is a perfect side dish for ham, beef tenderloin or a roast chicken.
Serves 6 side servings.
Here’s a cool picture to show you the basics of how to julienne. Which means to cut into thin or matchlike strips.
1. Pile basil leaves one on top of the other.
2. Roll leaves into a “cigar”.
3. Turn so that the roll is horizontal.
4. Begin slicing, with a rocking motion, from one end to the other - very thin slices.
5. With your fingertips undo strips from roll.
6. Sprinkle julienne strips on peas.
This technique should be done right before you are ready to eat your dish. Because the basil is so delicate it will bruise and brown easily.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
One of the best ways to cook vegetables is by blanching them; and using a colander.
Simply put, blanching is the technique of cooking your vegetables in super hot salted water. Then placing them in an icy cold water bath to stop the cooking process. The objective is to have a perfectly cooked “crisp & tender” texture.
An iced water bath is all well and good. However, if you dump your vegetable from the hot into iced water it will mix. Inevitably chunks of ice will come out along with your perfectly cooked vegetable.
To prevent this add a colander to your bowl of iced water. The colander must be submerged. You’ll want to find one that fits into the bowl you are using for your iced water.
Use the same motion of adding the cooked vegetable from the hot water to your iced water, only put the vegetable inside the well of the submerged colander. Swish your vegetable around to cool. Lift the colander out of the water, shake gently to remove excess water and place vegetable on toweling to pat dry.
Now you have your vegetable ready to go; and without excess ice melting away.
That’s your Tuesday Tip; a colander just rocks!